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15 Chinese Arrested for Bribing Internet Café Administrators to Mine Crypto

Police in Henyang, a city of south-central China’s Hunan Province, has arrested fifteen men suspected of stealing electricity from Internet café to mine cryptocurrencies, according to a report by local media.

During the past four months from June 2017 to July 2019, the cryptocurrencies they stole had been sold amounting to over one hundred million yuan (over $20 million). Besides, 9000 computer administrators are involved in helping mine crypto.

Local police received a clue showing that many local Internet cafes were illegally remotely controlled for crypto mining. Many computers in local Internet cafes run so slow that some even burn out hardware. After confirming the clues, the police immediately analyzed the data, extracted the illegal procedures implanted into computers. The preliminary investigation found that the Trojan horse program developer is a network technology company in Zhengzhou, and the company’s head surnamed Zhang.

The company’s platform is ostensibly just providing advertising and value-added business, but in fact, it is engaged in crypto mining business. The accused will recommend the crypto mining business in private to Internet Cafe administrators or Internet Cafe maintenance companies.

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The accused Zhang bribed Internet Cafe administrators under the guise of contacting business, asking them to implant the “mining” program into the computer of the Internet Cafes while maintaining the Internet Cafe system, to control it remotely. After acquiring cryptocurrency, the accused converted it to RMB through a third-party platform.

From June 2017 to July 2019, Zhang has developed more than 9,000 Internet Cafe administrators across the country to act as offline agents, giving them an average monthly commission reaching 20 million yuan.

Now All the 15 suspects have been arrested and the investigation is still ongoing. Stealing electricity to fund mining operations is not new in China. In November 2018, two middle school principals in Hunan Province were caught and punished by using the school’s IT network to mine Ether. In June 2019, a man was caught stealing electricity from an oil well to mine bitcoin; earlier in May, a 61-year-old grandmother was sentenced to four months in jail for stealing electricity while mining Bitcoin.

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